At least 10 people who have pleaded guilty in the investigation are on the government’s witness list, including former Deputy Mayor Kandia Milton and brother DeDan Milton, who was Kilpatrick’s executive assistant.
Derrick Miller, who has known Kilpatrick since high school, could emerge as the star. He pleaded guilty to corruption and tax crimes committed while he was Detroit’s chief administrative officer. The indictment says he was a crucial middle man, passing cash to Kilpatrick, including $10,000 in a restaurant bathroom.
Another convicted felon, political fundraiser Emma Bell, is expected to testify about $286,000 in kickbacks to Kilpatrick. The government says James Rosendall, who was trying to get a sludge-recycling contract for a Texas company, provided more than $100,000 in cash, private jet flights, entertainment and political donations.
“This is a very big case. There’s no mistake about it. I’m ready,” Kilpatrick defense attorney James Thomas said outside court, adding that he never sought a plea deal for the former mayor.
On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds rejected Thomas’s request that the trial be moved out of Detroit because of the effect of extensive media coverage on the ability of jurors to be fair to the ex-mayor and his co-defendants.
Kilpatrick is accused of working hand-in-glove with his father, Bernard, and longtime pal Bobby Ferguson. They, too, are on trial, charged with the same racketeering conspiracy, along with former Detroit water boss Victor Mercado.
Bernard Kilpatrick is accused of coercing contractors to pay him or lose business with the city. The indictment says father and son together got $1.2 million through racketeering over a seven-year period.